Mina García Soormally’s engaging monograph shows that the category of idolatry tells modern-day readers more about the mindset of European colonizers than the Native peoples charged with heresy. Although the biblical prohibition against the veneration of false idols appeared straightforward, Soormally maintains that Spaniards used this polyvalent category to condemn those aspects of Indigenous peoples’ lives deemed improper such as their sexual relationships, forms of agriculture, and concepts of time (19). Soormally examines chronicles of the Indies, evangelization plays, and literature from both sides of the Atlantic to bridge the gap between “European studies and those on the colonies” (xii). Following Felipe Fernández-Armesto’s (1987: 152) concept of the “Atlantic Mediterranean,” Soormally coins the term Catholic Atlantic to refer to the confluence of geography and politics in areas where Catholic values were implanted and to better assess how physical spaces related to the customs and cultures of European societies...
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Book Review| April 01 2021
Idolatry and the Construction of the Spanish Empire
Idolatry and the Construction of the Spanish Empire. By García Soormally, Mina. (
University Press of Colorado,
2018. xvii+220 pp., preface, acknowledgments, appendices, references, index. $60.00 cloth.)
Ethnohistory (2021) 68 (2): 356–357.
Anderson Hagler; Idolatry and the Construction of the Spanish Empire. Ethnohistory 1 April 2021; 68 (2): 356–357. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-8802038
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